Friday, November 17, 2006

searching for difference...

So, here we are, Erika & I, listing off random things about us. We find a lot of similarities and a lot of differences, and both identify ourselves heavily by discussing who our parents are.

Erika is a lover of all sports, and a hopeless romantic. She was taught always that God matters above all things. She has two sisters, and is close to her parents. Her parents are both accountants and desire for her to broaden her horizons. Her two sisters are encouraged to do the same.

So at this point, Erika & I share strong familial values, and faiths. Our hobby interests are very different. I’m not into sports, or a romantic in the least, which is frustrating for my boyfriend who enjoys being creatively romantic. And from here, we start to see our differences. As we talk about our parents and siblings we see differences slowly emerging.

Both of our dads are a bit nerdy, but different types of nerds. My dad is incredibly involved in science, and loves to talk and read about history. He rarely watches television, and the last film that I remember my dad watching in the cinema was Congo, when I was 11. He is a super book nerd and loves to talk about things that he’s reading. Erika’s dad is a huge fan of sci-fi television shows, films, and books. He’s read a ton of sci-fi books and enjoys working with numbers too. So we both think we've got pretty neat dads - but we're much different than them.

Our mothers have heavily influenced us as well. Both Erika and I come from families where we were encouraged to get a good education as our parents did, and to know about the world that is out there.

At this point, Erika and I haven't even talked about our obvious difference: race. It didn't come up in our conversation at all. I suppose we could talk about our families having possibly raised us to believe a certain way about another ethnicity to find out if we had a different experience growing up because we are different races. But we didn't. Erika did say that her parents raised her with a strong sense of identity; something that I think applies to both of us.

Our personalities, our interests, and probably how we spend our time seems to be different. Foundationally, Erika and I are a lot alike. I'm sure if I could have spent more than 10 minutes with her I could find many more differences, and learn more from her. Maybe next class?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

hey teammates...

Demographic tribes. Wow, it’s pretty insane to see these marketers place us into such plain fragments. It feels like we’re not people, but buying machines.

In my class about Africa we talked about the modernization theory that was applied to “underdeveloped” countries in the 1950s and 1960s, so they could grow economically and trade with other countries (like ours). Steps come into play within this theory, each pursuing the greater purpose of improving the economy. The 2nd and 3rd steps are fully focused on driving the economy to be more consumer minded, so that people will spend more money and industries can develop. Then people will stop worrying about basic needs (and concern themselves with things that really matter like clothes and technology). Then the idealistic result is that more industries are in place and the people will go back to being a familial-centered culture. Yeah, the theory was lame and it has been disproven. I feel like this mindset was present in the video we watched about market research and segmentation. A mindset that is ultimately unhealthy, I believe.

But I also feel like a lot of the reason our country feeds this mindset is that our value system is money, just like marketers that place us into these categories. If we function and perform as robots (as they predict) then we’re not calling for change. We’re proving them right. An honest student in our class admitted that he was in college to buy nice things, and drive a nice car. That is the American dream we adhere to. Even earlier in the semester, one of the speakers in our class talked about how she had a baby girl and just went through a divorce, but was working a ton, even having midnight conference callas because she needs to pay her dues so she can have the toys we all want. Those were her exact words. Toys. Expensive cars, big houses, fashion clothes, boats, nice vacation packages – these are the things that drive much of the people in our country. Though I desperately want to be working toward other things, non-material things, I fall into this too. I find myself buy clothes I do not need, drinking $3 coffee weekly, and spending a considerable amount of what little disposable income I have on me. We are far too easily satisfied. Lame, lame, lame.

Ok, enough about the economy. Back to demographic tribes, class, race, etc. Lambiase asked what the tipping point was. Do differences matter so much that we can’t have community? They shouldn’t. In some cases they do, but mostly it’s much easier to go to what is comfortable and familiar to us – so identifying, communicating through, and functioning within our differences is work and often left undone. Our economy exploits those differences, treats us as wallets that function like clock-work. We have to approach differences in a new way. We must be careful, attentive, respectful, and unselfish. We can identify what we do share, and go from there as the books explains.

I’ve made a very sweet friend this semester whose family is radically different than mine. We’re different classes, different ethnicities, and different religions. I’ve talked about her in a previous blog. We spent the first few weeks talking through our families, our faith, and our lives in general – we found common bonds. A few weeks back she said she so enjoyed our talk time, and was thankful to have a friend that shared interests with her. I agreed. Since then, we’ve been able to penetrate much deeper – really talking about our families, our faiths, our past relationships, our hopes, our fears, our opinions – all areas that we have much difference in. I’ve learned so much. And I’m so thankful.

In a lot of aspects of my life lately I feel like I’ve needed to be reminded, and remind those around me that we are on the same team! School, home, PRSSA… we have many differences (even when we share the same major, religion, ethnicity, work ethic) and they need to be sifted through, patiently. Difference of preference, different pet peeves, different expectations – all things that can be worked through by communication. Patrick, my boyfriend, has taught me that continually throughout our relationship. To communicate honestly, patiently, and for the purposes of serving others – what a difficult but worthy task to perform.

And again, back to tribes. We do have differences, as Danielle said, “beautiful differences,” but we don’t have to perform within the segments we’re placed in. Challenge the system, don’t buy into American marketing schemes when they can be avoided. We are all on the same team, friends. We have differences and we have similarities. Let us challenge each other, and remind ourselves that our differences as well as what we do share, are purposeful, just as our lives.

“But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be.”

Thursday, November 09, 2006

identity politics

I am:
-a follower of Christ

-a sister, to my six sweet siblings
-a daughter, of wonderful parents
-a girlfriend, to a loving, servant-hearted man
-a friend, to many lovely people
-a roommate, to beautiful, encouraging women
-an aunt, a niece, cousin, and a granddaughter

-from an American Indian, German background
-a small town girl

-a student, in a great program
-an officer, in a fun organization
-an intern, at an exciting small company

-a goofy, hippie dancer
-a book nerd
-a volunteer
-a lover of adventure
-a simple, easy-going person
-a compassionate-hearted believer
-a concerned (near) graduate, wondering what I should do next.
-a lover of cultures, change, and growth

I love hearing who we view ourselves to be. I wish we would have traded papers with each other. I’d even love to partner with someone in class who feels like they know us well, and see what they would list us as being. We have our perceptions of who we are, what I’d like to know is how my classmates, who get a glimpse of who I am would label me.

The question Lambiase left us with was this: How do we handle a person who feels like they have a saving truth, and are only willing to talk about that truth. She mentioned that this could apply in a religious context, and a non-religious one.

I’m going to state my thoughts in reference to a religious context. I do believe in a saving truth, a truth that has changed my life and gives me purpose. I want to talk about it, because if I believe in the truth of Christ and don’t share it, I believe I am a cruel person – hiding away an eternally freeing truth. This is a bit of a stretch, but me not talking about faith in Christ is like me not telling my friends about a dealership in Denton, giving away brand new cars, for free… except this truth is an eternal one, something much more long lasting than a car.


If all I am willing to talk about is the saving truth that I believe in, then no one will listen to me. God help me if I approach any relationship with such a self-centered attitude.

I am very interested in other beliefs that people have, as well as anything they are willing to share about who they are and how they were shaped into that. In fact, in talking to people, I try to share less and listen more. Why would anyone want to listen to me if I haven’t been an attentive listener to them? It is sad that people believe they have a saving truth, (or maybe they do have a saving truth) but are arrogant, and unwilling to hear of anything other than what they have to say, then their saving truth will remain only theirs, because who wants to listen to someone who cares nothing about anyone but themselves.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

oh politics... & religion

Well, though he may have lost every Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Atheist vote – Rick Perry remains our governor.

I’m going back to our class discussion – which was difficult because though we’re trying to talk about cosmopolitanism, in this circumstance, we’re talking about religion. I’m not trying to say that I don’t like talking about religion. I do, very much so. Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity – I enjoy reading and discussing all of the above – because I believe this is what truly matters – to answer the question of what our purpose is here on earth…

But I guess we’re talking more about Rick Perry. I respect what Perry said, because he was being honest. He could have worked on how he worded it, and bringing such opinions into his last campaigning weekend might not have been the brightest move… but he said what his heart trusts to be true.

The thing that he said that, to me, was very disappointing was his response.

“Before we get into Buddha and all the others, I get a little confused there. But the fact is that we live in a pluralistic world but our faith is real personal. And my Christian faith teaches that the way is through Jesus Christ.”

“I get a little confused there.” Did he really say that? Did the governor of our state really make a strange reference to Buddha, and allude to “all the others?” Not only does this make him seem unintelligent, it makes Christians seem misguided, narrow-minded, and uninterested in what other people believe.

I feel like I’ve very off topic.

I’m struggling with this whole cosmopolitanism thing… which probably means I should read the book. Well, though I am completely at fault for ordering it so late in the semester, it should be coming in tomorrow. I do look forward to reading it. Yay.

In the mean time, I guess this is how I’m exploring cosmopolitanism this holiday season. Check these out, give back the blessings you’ve been given. These are Christian ministries, I’m sure you could find similar ones that are not evangelical if you don’t want to participate in that… We have such a great opportunity to give, let’s do it!



Monday, November 06, 2006

“Lurk, and then talk.”

1. Free from local, provincial, or national ideas, prejudices, or attachments; at home all over the world.
2. Of or characteristic of a cosmopolite.
3. Belonging to all the world; not limited to just one part of the world.
4. Botany, Zoology. Widely distributed over the globe.
5. A person who is free from local, provincial, or national bias or attachment; citizen of the world; cosmopolite.

What bubble are you living in?
How are you reaching out?

These were the questions Lambiase posed in our discussion of cosmopolitanism. Things I often think about, partly because of my interest (and minor) in anthropology. And mostly because of my belief in Jesus Christ.

What within me is materialistic, lethargic cultural complacency, and what changes could I pursue? Ramadan just ended a couple weeks back. 1.3 billion people in the world participated in this holy month of fasting. Something that rarely crosses the minds of many American college students (in my experience). A group of friends and myself spent the month fasting along with our Muslim friends, praying for the Arab, African, and Asian countries where Muslims are starving and suffering. And praying for respect, understanding, and relationships between these faiths here at home. I met a friend in class who is from Pakistan, and I got to walk with her through this holy month and experience as she does - for the purposes of understanding. Not because God calls me to such righteous acts for salvation, but because He put it on my heart to learn more about Muslims and how to love them. A group of friends of mine and I took money saved from fasting, and sent it to Darfur, Sudan - a bunch of college students saving and giving what they can (which isn't a lot).

I want to believe that having a world mind view comes from initiative that a person must pursue themselves. From my interest in reading about other cultures, and idealogies. But it is true that both of my parents went to college. (my dad pursuing degrees in both botany and zoology which made the online definition of cosmopolitanism, haha). Both of them encouraged me to think and have compassion about the world around me. My dad has lived in South America and Africa. I've spent time in Europe, and my closest friends here in Denton have spent time in Russia, Africa, and South America - wanting to make a difference in this world. I do have people around me, encouraging me to love the world around me with my heart and my resources.

I still don't believe that either of these circumstances have been the primary cause of my interest in people, in what is going on in other cultures. Sure reading, being informed, thinking of how people experience life outside of our own culture & bubbles shapes us into more compassionate people - but any compassion that exists within me, any knowledge that I have of another culture comes from the Creator of us all, who has given me a love for a people and a desire to know them, to help them, and to most importantly learn from them.

When we discuss things like cosmopolitanism the terms that follow are open-mindedness, and tolerance. Who knows who I would be if I experienced all these things with no filter. The world and its struggles have the potential to harden a person. I do not believe we, selfish humans, are capable of loving, serving, and being open to all the hurt and pain in the world without a greater purpose in doing so. My greater purpose is Christ. This does not mean that I point my finger at people, that I believe I am better than one single soul in this world, or that I believe my purpose is to preach to people how to become like me. This means simply that the love of Christ exists within me, a pure joy that I want to share. A joy that gives me a desire to love and aid people in all the other cultures that God created – not make them all American or like me. And ultimately, this means to me that though I desire deeply to love and serve people as Christ did, I am more concerned with eternity – the time we spend on this earth is a minor glimpse of what is to come. I do not pursue cosmopolitanism with openness, or tolerance. I pursue global awareness and action with the love and mercy that has been shown me – terms that are much more meaningful and important to me…

I thought it would be appropriate, and a nice, lighter-toned addtion to attach a photo of my brother's dog: Cosmo.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Wow. I guess this word was chosen as a combo of “fake” and “blogging.”

Here is the apology from Edelman’s blog:
“I want to acknowledge our error in failing to be transparent about the identity of the two bloggers from the outset. This is 100% our responsibility and our error; not the client's.”

I mean, that’s sweet that he wanted to make sure no one blamed Wal-Mart. Come on. Why is it so hard for people to APOLOGIZE? Straight out, no fluffy, unimportant stuff. How about some of this: “I am sorry. What I did was wrong. I am committed to making a change. Please consider forgiving me.” I know it’s not easy – especially when it’s for the public and business matters – but we’ve seen truly humble apologies – and when they are genuine – they work! Ok, I’ll give them credit – they did apologize. I guess every time something like this happens in the media, the apology seems sort of lame. I imagine if the offense were more personal, like between me & my boyfriend – and I wonder how I would feel if his apology was so greatly lacking… “I’m sorry that what I did hurt your feelings.” I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be getting away with that.

Am I being too nit picky? I think not – this is a PR firm. They should have a more complete apology. It sort of makes me feel like they (& others) believe it is not completely wrong to “flog.” The article makes a good point – this company is on the forefront of Web technology – they should have known better. But everyone makes -mistakes, right? Yes. They are a PR firm – they should know how to apologize, humbly.

There should be more than a call for transparency – but a call for honesty. They were not “lacking transparency.” They were dishonest, and straight up lying about what they were doing. This deserves a full apology.

Monday, October 23, 2006

enron! money! selfishness! ahhhh!

It is incredibly frustrating to watch people make major decisions focused around money. It is even more frustrating to hear credit given to those people, because “we’ve never been faced with decision-making based on such financial power, who knows if we could stand up for what’s right if we were offered millions of dollars?”

Come on. Can we not see that Hollywood has proven that money does not buy happiness? Will we not stand up for people, because we are so self-absorbed and money hungry? Is this the American dream? I think so. Bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger feet stomping on anyone in the way of our pursuit of this lame, superficial lifestyle.

Though this was not necessarily a financial decision, I’ve faced such ethical difficulties at my internship. I work at a very small agency, and therefore have quite a bit of opportunity to work with most of our clients. However, one of our clients is Knockouts – which is the haircut version of Hooters. Something that our culture embraces with little concern – but the sort of company that I don’t feel comfortable promoting. I told my boss I didn’t want to work on Knockouts at all. I don’t agree with this ridiculous idea of married men getting their hair cut and their fantasies entertained by college-aged girls dressed in skin-tight, less-than-classy outfits. I want to promote my belief that the heart and mind matter more than the body. I don’t want my money to support Hooters, or Knockouts because I believe that the more our culture accepts this, the more quickly we’ll move towards more detrimental, immorally degrading atmospheres.

I’ve been so thankful that this has helped me establish a healthy, honest relationship with my boss. He respects me, and my opinions. I was not penalized or looked down upon for my honesty and unwillingness to plunge forward with a client that I don’t feel comfortable advocating.

I’m scared when I see this footage of how the people at Enron behaved. And I’m even more terrified when people in my classes question if they’d turn down millions of dollars in the face of complete corruption and deception. I’m scared that this is human nature. I’m scared that our society represents a valuing of money above people and their well-being.

My only tool is the pray, that God would give me grace and strength to embrace what is good for the building up of others, and not my own benefit. And that God would be working in the hearts of people, to point them to good and right things, and show them the emptiness and hopelessness of hurting others for their own financial success or personal benefit.

That He would change our lazy society, our unwillingness to stand up for what is right, is my hope. That we would be a humble people, representative of His character, and all that is good and moral, is my hope.